By Anne Marie Amacher
DAVENPORT — St. Ambrose University opened this academic year with words of wisdom and a blessing from the bishop.
“This year as we celebrate the beatification of John Henry Cardinal Newman, one of the great intellectual figures in 19th-century England, we should remember what he said: ‘Growth is the only evidence of life,’” quoted St. Ambrose University President Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ. “Let us take as our motto this year a willingness to grow and change, an openness to newness in thinking, a willingness to have our hearts moved,” she added during opening remarks at the blessing ceremony Aug. 25 in the gathering space of Christ the King Chapel.
Father Chuck Adam, the university’s chaplain and campus minister, read from Isaiah, Chapter 11. Bishop Martin Amos’ homily focused on that Scripture. “The passage describes the ideal king from David’s line — who we, as Christians, believe to be Jesus and his Kingdom. Isaiah sees (this leader’s) charismatic gifts and his rule as the beginning of the hoped-for reign of peace, justice and worldwide knowledge of God,” the bishop said. “Isaiah refers to the stump, a new shoot, a new branch. The beginning of any new academic year is always a new shoot, a new branch as well.”
Bishop Amos noted the absence of people who were present last year and the presence of new faces this year. “There are new courses and new instructors, perhaps new friends. Each of us is different than we were last year because of the experiences of this past year. For some of you this is the beginning year, for some the final year.”
He encouraged listeners to rely on the Holy Spirit in the coming year. “I truly believe that if we accept that life-giving Spirit and use the Spirit’s gifts we will also receive the fruits of that Spirit which St. Paul mentions in his letter to the Galatians: love, joy, peace, patient endurance, kindness, generosity, faith, mildness and chastity.
“As we bless this new academic year it is with the vision and hope that made Isaiah look forward to a new beginning.”
Bishop Amos blessed those in attendance and sprinkled holy water throughout the gathering area.
In conclusion, Sr. Lescinski said: “As we begin this academic year, let me charge all members of the St. Ambrose University community to promote and support learning and academic freedom, and to do so with integrity, intellectual curiosity, Christian charity and a spirit of service to others.
“I pray that this new year will be a time of blessing for all of us.”